As a profession we have a problem when it comes to diversity and inclusion. We need to acknowledge that the problem exists and we need to be committed to addressing it – change will only come through our actions, both individually and collectively.
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We know that as a professional cohort our membership does not reflect the diversity of interests and perspectives that exist within our communities. It is true that through our professional institutions and cross-sectoral initiatives we have made some progress. But we need to be stronger in holding ourselves to account and acknowledge that we must do more.
There are an increasing number of examples of organisations that have made it a priority to address the issue of diversity and inclusivity and it’s starting to make a difference: there are an increasing number of examples throughout the sector of where individuals are providing leadership in making a difference. It is right that we should use such cases as exemplars that others might aspire to match but there is more that we can, and should do to effect change. And each and every one of us has a role to play in delivering that change.
Not long after I joined the Board of Trustees for the CIHT a training session was organised on the subject of unconscious bias, part of the Institution’s on-going commitment to improve diversity and inclusion. We need to be open to the importance of such sessions and see them as an opportunity for personal and professional growth: they need to be an essential component of our on-going CPD. Each of us can make a point of ensuring that we reach out and encourage new entrants from underrepresented parts of our communities. Each of us can make a commitment to champion diverse and inclusive discussions and panels. And each of us can ensure that we consciously challenge ourselves to make sure our actions embrace the needs of a diverse and inclusive society.
It is often recited that travel is a derived demand: it is the consequence of a choice made by an individual or group of individuals. If we are to ensure that the solutions we propose meet the needs of the user then we have to ensure our approach responds to the diversity of demands.
What I see within our network of young professionals gives me encouragement. I see a diverse and inclusive cohort, one whose perspective we need to provide the space to be heard, to be debated and which needs to shape the solutions taken forward.
If we are to become a more diverse and inclusive profession we have to make it more relevant: it has to be seen for what it is, the opportunity to help shape our future. We must ensure that the solutions we develop are shaped by the perspectives of the communities we serve.
Our ability to accumulate data has grown exponentially in recent years, as has our capability to analyse it. But what of our ability to understand what the data means? If we aspire to place the user at the heart of our transport system then behavioural insight will become increasingly important. We must ensure that our understanding of the communities we serve is as rich and diverse as they are themselves. We need to gain the trust of our communities that not only are we listening to their needs but that our solutions respect them.
Martin Tugwell - Programme Director Englands Economic Heartland and President CIHT.
Originally published in Smart Transport magazine in September 2020 - for more from Smart Transport see here www.smarttransport.org.uk